Garden nourishes the soul in troubled times

Jerry Apps
Not only does a garden provide fresh vegetables for the table, but it also nourishes the soul.

As the bad news continues and the number of those captured by the COVID-19 virus goes up and the number employed goes down, it’s easy to feel nothing but gloom and doom.

I’m switching to happier thoughts and our family garden quickly comes to mind. I remember helping my mother in our big farm garden back when I was maybe four or five years old and I have worked in a garden almost every year since. About the only time when I missed gardening was the time when I was in the army. We’ve grown a vegetable garden at Roshara, our Waushara County farm for more than 50 years—never missing a year.

A couple of years ago, my kids gave me a special folding lawn chair, with the words on the back “Senior Supervisor.” Steve and Natasha have taken on most of the work, enlisting Sue and Paul on occasion, especially during the times when the weeds seem to be winning.

I planted tomato seeds a couple of weeks ago and they are up and thriving under my grow-light. I ordered seeds back in February, and yesterday I spread them out on the dining room table—radishes, peas, rutabagas, lettuce, kale, sweet corn, zucchini, beets, winter squash, pumpkins, carrots, bush beans. Natasha has been rounding up seed potatoes, both white and red, plus onion sets. I will buy cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprout plants for setting out.

So we are ready for another gardening season with all of its challenges and surprises—every garden season is different, which is one of the joys of growing a garden.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Not only does a garden provide fresh vegetables for the table, but it also nourishes the soul.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to